Patterns of Global Terrorism 1999 - Spain

The terrorist group ETA ended its 14-month-old unilateral cease-fire on 27 November, and members of the group conducted low-level attacks in December. Spanish security authorities intercepted two vans loaded with explosives and reportedly headed for Madrid, detaining one driver. ETA and Spanish Government representatives met in Switzerland in May but could not find common ground. The ETA had hoped to use the talks to make progress toward its goal of Basque self-determination and eventual independence, while Madrid pushed for the ETA to declare a permanent end to terrorism and renewed its offer for relief for the group's prisoners and exiles.

The Spanish Government energetically combated the ETA even as it sought a dialogue with the terrorist group. Spanish law enforcement officials, working closely with counterparts in France and other countries where ETA fugitives reside, arrested several of the group's most experienced leaders and cadre and shut down one of its last known commando cells. Spanish and French security forces also confiscated large amounts of explosives, weapons, logistics, and targeting information. Moreover, in late October, French authorities arrested terrorist Belen Gonzalez-Penalva, believed to be involved in the car-bomb attack in 1985 against Spanish security officials that also killed a US citizen. Madrid's request for extradition of accused ETA terrorist Ramon Aldasoro from the United States was delayed by court appeals in 1998. Aldasoro finally was extradited to Spain in late December 1999.

Spain's other domestic terrorist group, the First of October Anti-Fascist Resistance Group (GRAPO), remained largely inactive in 1999, mounting only a few symbolic attacks against property. The last major case involving GRAPO, the kidnapping of a Zaragoza businessman in July 1995, remained unsolved.


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